Summer 2017

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Northwestern is the quarterly alumni magazine for Northwestern University.
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What's Up Docs?

These dedicated doctoral students — from the hip-hop artist to the immigrant-rights advocate — will change your perspective on higher learning.


Dionne Champion

Dancing Queen: Dionne Champion

Champion launched DancExcel, a performing arts school that uses "the arts as a way of engaging kids," in areas such as math and science and writing and history "to bridge the gaps that exist in their education.” Read more.

Jordan Conwell

Equitable Education Advocate: Jordan Conwell

Conwell, a self-decribed "education groupie," studies on how racial and class inequalities intersect to shape students’ access to educational resources and, subsequently, their school outcomes. Read more.

Dong-Wan Ha

All Keyed Up: Dong-Wan Ha

“My passport is full of stamps,” says Ha, an award-winning pianist from Seoul who has competed in 14 prestigious international piano competitions. He’s won nearly half of those competitions. Read more.

Alanna Hickey

Native Voices in Verse: Alanna Hickey

Hickey studies the emergence of Native American poets in the 18th and 19th centuries. “Indigenous peoples surprise us by rejiggering poetic forms to suit their own cultural and political needs," she says. Read more.

Kelly Ksiazek-Mikenas

Up on the Roof: Kelly Ksiazek-Mikenas

Kelly Ksiazek-Mikenas followed her passion for plant science not to the root but to the roof — the green roof. Read more.

Michael Mauskapf

Pop Culture Detective: Michael Mauskapf

Mauskapf is studying how innovation and competitive advantage play out in creative industries and cultural markets — contexts that are dependent on creating or matching taste. Read more.

Almita Miranda

Mixed Messages: Almita Miranda

The plight of mixed-status families is more than an academic interest for Almita Miranda. It’s her history. Read more.

Kevin Roche

Stream of Consciousness: Kevin Roche

Roche uses a network of sensors in the bed of a 2.5-meter artificial stream — a “glorified gutter” — to measure how fast dissolved chemicals are exchanging between the surface and the subsurface of rivers and streams. Read more.

Carl Rodriguez

Riding the Gravitational Waves: Carl Rodriguez

Gravitational waves are opening new windows into the universe, and  Rodriguez studies one source of those waves — black hole mosh pits. Read more.

Kelly Anne Schwarz

Engineering Cells to Target Cancer: Kelly Anne Schwarz

Schwarz is part of a team of Northwestern synthetic biologists who developed a general method for “rewiring” immune cells to turn them into smart therapeutics. Read more.

Shuang Zhang

Healing Hearts: Shuang Zhang

Zhang is exploring what happens to heart cells in the aftermath of a heart attack. Read more.

Justin Zullo

Freedom Beat: Justin Zullo

"I want to use hip-hop to give back, because I feel indebted to the hip-hop communities that nurtured my growth,"  says Zullo, who wants to examine and engage in the problem of youth criminalization, especially among marginalized communities. Read more.